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Better late than never: Labor commit to prescribed burning program

The McGowan Government’s last minute decision to continue the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program has been welcomed by The Nationals WA.

Member for Warren Blackwood Terry Redman said funding for the program appeared to have gone up in smoke until The Nationals put considerable pressure on the Labor Government.

“Funding was set to run out on June 30 this year and until now the McGowan Government has remained mum on the program’s future,” Mr Redman said,

“A number of communities across the South West were nervous about Labor cutting another important regional program. It’s pleasing to see the Government has come to the party and funded the program for another four years.”

The Nationals WA raised the matter in Parliament on several occasions and had circulated a petition aimed at changing the Government’s attitude toward prescribed burning.

“I’m very pleased to see the State Government has listened to the concerns of regional communities on this issue and commit funding in the State Budget to continue this essential program,” Mr Redman said.

A $2.1 million reduction in funding for the South West’s Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program in 2018/19 has led to just less than 100,000 hectares being burnt since July 1, 2018.

“This was the worst annual result for prescribed burning since 2013/14, and falls far short of the Government’s 200,000 hectare target,” Mr Redman said.

“Now that funding has been committed, it’s time for the Government to get on with the job, deliver on those targets, and ensure that communities in the South West are safer from the risk of bushfires.”

Spokesperson for Emergency Services Colin de Grussa said the Enhanced Prescribed Burning Program was essential for community safety.

“An effective prescribed burning program is crucial when managing bushfires as it reduces fuel loads, allowing firefighters more time to combat the fire and limit its impact,” Mr de Grussa said

 “Beyond the community safety benefits, prescribed burning can also help maintain biodiversity and to rehabilitate vegetation after timber harvesting or mining activities.”

While The Nationals WA welcomed the additional $22 million for the prescribed burning program, Mr de Grussa said the State Government still had to prove they were taking bushfire risks seriously.

“This State Government have certainly made some curious decisions when it comes to bushfire management,” Mr de Grussa said.

“This last minute funding follows an alarming decision to push forward with a new subdivision in Mount Helena against the advice of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.”